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[inception] palindrome

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Jan. 1st, 2011 | 09:17 pm

Pairing: Arthur/Eames, Arthur/Ariadne, Arthur/Cobb, Cobb/Mal
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1500 plus change
Notes: warning for unfaithfulness. Also, thanks to amy_shoe for reading through.
Summary: There’s salt on his lips and a low voice whispering close to his ear, “Oh, darling, you’re going to have to be very brave for me now.”

When Arthur wakes up, there’s a large palm covering half his face, burning hot across his skin. There’s salt on his lips and a low voice whispering close to his ear, “Oh, darling, you’re going to have to be very brave for me now.”

That’s a lie.

When Arthur wakes up, his nose is buried in a tangled mess of brown hair. He breathes in and smells the familiar scent of vanilla and jasmine and smiles without opening his eyes. He knows where he is. He knows this place.

Tightening his arm around the slim waist he’s curled around, Arthur hums gently and shifts lazily, a slow drag of his body across the sheets. The susurration of sound wakes Ariadne and she opens her eyes more readily, sitting up so that white sheets pool gracelessly around her hips, baring the slope of her shoulders and the swell of her breasts.

“Morning,” she says, voice rough and husky, and Arthur knows without looking that she’s beautiful in the sunlight, hair alight and skin rosy where the sun kisses it. She sweeps her hand across his forehead, brushing hair away from where it clings stubbornly, and laughs when Arthur still refuses to open his eyes.

“Arthur,” quiet, laughingly chiding, and Arthur smiles, and smiles again wider when she kisses his dimples, the wrinkles near his eyes, and when he reluctantly opens his eyes, she uses artist’s fingers to brush sleep away from his eyes, and—

--and he turns around, cigarette a too slim shape between his fingers with smoke still curling around his face. He’s braced against a window, knee up against the sill with his hair melting into the shadows and bright neon reflections making his face alien.

He’s turned at the sound of a key in the lock, familiar, and when the door opens his heart thu-thumps, skipping a beat, but no, that’s ridiculous, it is, isn’t it, when it’s only Cobb.

Only Cobb.

Cobb watches Arthur carefully as he crosses the room and they stare at each other silently, barely any space between them. It’s a still moment, stretching tight between the two of them, and Arthur gives in as he always does, crushing his cigarette in a tacky tourist ashtray and folding into Cobb’s space with a sigh, trusting him to catch him, trusting him.

And Cobb does, he wraps a strong arm up across Arthur’s back and catches his face with his other hand, large fingers spreading across his cheek and spiderwebbing into his hair. He leans down forward to take Arthur’s mouth in a deep kiss, stealing his breath and making it his own.

Arthur whimpers and tangles his fingers in Cobb’s shirt. It’s expensive, he knows it is, picked it out with Mal just a few weeks ago, and he can still smell her perfume on it, tickling his nose as he disturbs the material so he smooths out it out and brushes shaking fingers across his own eyes, suddenly wet, and—

-- and sits up in bed, next to Ariadne again, smiling wide enough that it hurts just a little, struggling to balance a full tray across the precarious points of bent knees under the blankets.

“Thank you,” he says, and leans over to kiss Ariadne sweetly, his hand a warm comma behind her neck.

She laughs, pleased, and tucks thick curls behind her ears. “It’s just toast,” she replies, embarrassed and flushing beautifully, the same pastel pink creeping around the edges of her face.

“It’s lovely,” Arthur says sincerely, and lifts thick toast to his mouth, biting in and leaving crumbs bordering his mouth and prickly on his fingers. The toast crunches between his teeth obscenely even though it’s wet and heavy with melted butter, and Arthur winces just a little, wet and thick in his mouth, just like –

-- like Cobb’s cock, deep in his mouth. Arthur closes his eyes and places his palms carefully on Cobb’s thighs to balance himself out, cheeks hollowed into concave shapes and above him, Cobb gasps and stutters out a name Arthur doesn’t allow himself to hear just as Arthur flinches when Cobb brushes his fingers across Arthur’s hands, the press of metal startling and yet not at all.

Cobb’s fingers tangle in Arthur’s hair, gripping tight and fierce as he moans, and his hips jerk up into Arthur’s mouth, choking him, until he pulls back and settles on his heels, gasping and flushing from shame. From arousal.

“Fuck me,” Arthur says, and closes his eyes. He pulls his hands back and does as best he can to fist them into carpet he’s walked a thousand times, carpet he’s spilled across and lain across and looked at so many times that the faint pattern is burned into his retinas.

“Arthur?” For the first time, Cobb’s uncertain, cautious, and he extends a hand out to Arthur, his hand broad and capable and Arthur thinks, his calluses are different, and then thinks to himself, why did I think that?

“Cobb, come on,” he pleads, and Cobb’s eyes soften just a little and he nods helplessly, sighs, and slides to his knees in front of him. “Arthur--”

“—Arthur,” Ariadne says. Arthur blinks and she steadies in front of him, looking worried. There’s ink staining her fingers, and he absently lifts them to his mouth, pressing almost kisses to her blunt nails. “Arthur,” she says again, “is something wrong?”

“Wrong?” Arthur says, and to his own ears he sounds, not surprised exactly, not confused, or resigned, or annoyed, but thoughtful. “No, nothing. Why?” then he smiles mischievously. “Did you do something?”

“Of course not!” Ariadne protests reflexively, and she slaps at Arthur’s shoulder gently, laughing a little despite herself. Her scarf is coming unwound from her neck and Arthur tucks the fraying end back, leaning across the small table in their small café. “It’s just, you don’t seem all here today.”

“Sorry.” Arthur doesn’t know where else he’d be, if not here. “Sorry, just distracted, I guess.” Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a bulky silhouette of a person, a half-remembered person walking past, maybe, someone he knows. He turns around sharply but there’s no one there.

There’s no one there but when he looks back at Ariadne she’s saying his name again, speaking louder, and the few other patrons of the café are staring at him, staring and whispering—

--whispering, “How could you do this to me?”, her eyes wet and large but her cheeks dry. She’s so wonderfully French, beautiful Mal, dramatic and vibrant but still so perfectly proud. Her voice barely shakes as she looks at Cobb, as she looks at Arthur, and Arthur realises that he is, his shoulders are trembling and he can’t seem to stop twining his fingers in unlikely patterns, over and over.

Cobb’s standing, already moving towards his wife, face pleading, but Mal ignores him, takes two, three dramatic steps towards Arthur, and Arthur stumbles to his feet, when Mal’s arms comes up from her side, and he pales and staggers back, afraid, terrified.

Mal stops, puzzled, and then concerned, and she and Cobb stare at him questioningly. “Arthur?” she asks, in that gorgeous accent, and Arthur tastes bile at the back of his throat.

“I thought you were going to shoot me,”

“Arthur,” Cobb says slowly, “you do know this is reality—”

“No.” It’s an instantaneous protest, and Arthur frowns, and questions himself, and feels for his totem but it’s not—

--not quite there yet, so close to home, but not there and Arthur cradles Ariadne’s body in his arms, his heart pounding in his chest. She’s gasping for breath and staining his shirt with her blood and her eyes are still so stunned, she was so surprised by the gunman who’d come bursting into the café, and Arthur hadn’t been, why hadn’t he been surprised, why—

“—why, I really don’t,” Cobb’s voice is raw. “I don’t know why, I couldn’t help it. Mal, please, you have to believe me,”

“No, no, I don’t, Dominic,” Mal smiles at him, smiles kindly and viciously and how can she do that.

Arthur looks at her and knows that he’s hurt her, that she now must hate him, and it makes him feel sick, but why does it terrify him, her anger, even though she’s the most peaceful person he knows. Why is he so fucking scared—

“—scared, darling, you mustn’t be. I’ll be right here when you wake up,” there’s a voice whispering low in his ear, when Arthur jolts awake, and he’s still terrified, and unsurprised, with blood matting cloth to skin and guilt curling hot and shameful in his belly—but that’s not right, is it, he’s none of those things.

No, he’s clean and horizontal, panting, and there are tiny pinpricks of pain in his wrist when he moves his arm. He’s weighted down by another person, a body across him, and when he opens his eyes he can see Eames, oh, and Eames smiles at him and says, “It’s about bloody time, Arthur,” with his beautiful voice and when he kisses Arthur, the calluses on his hands are just right and Arthur laughs tiredly, smiles at Ariadne and Cobb where they’re standing behind Eames and thinks that next time, it won’t be him that tests new solutions, and next time, he won’t forget, and next time--

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Comments {1}


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from: psycocatgirl
date: Jan. 1st, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC)

Oh, wow. Ow. My heart.

This is so mind-bendy and heart-achey and perfect and terrifying and... oh. Just OH. I love how in this fandom, the "it was only a dream" thing is NOT a cop out, but a perfectly legitimate way to end a story. Especially one so poignant as this. And it all fit so perfectly. Love your vivid sensory details and the almost frantic jump cuts between the scenes.

Oh, Arthur. When will you learn that being Yusuf's Guinea pig is a bad idea? *sigh*

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